What is Anime? A Guide for Parents

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January 31, 2022

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What parents will learn in this VIP course:

  • What is anime?
  • What is manga?
  • Why do students like anime?
  • Where are students watching anime?
  • Is anime appropriate for students to watch?

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


Irene C.

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This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

Are your students watching “Pokemon,” “Yu-Gi-Oh!,” or “Naruto”? If so, then they are already familiar with anime. But, is anime safe for kids to watch? Learn what parents should consider about anime themes and screen time additions when considering whether anime is safe for your kids.

What is Anime?

  • Anime is a Japanese word  that means any animation regardless of style or origin
  • Outside of Japan,  anime refers to a specific type of cartoons either inspired by or produced in Japan
  • The style of the drawings is usually very recognizable and typically depicts characters with big eyes, wild hair, vibrant colors, and big emotions 
  • Manga is Japanese comic books or graphic novels that are drawn in the same style.  Much anime is derived from manga
  • Anime is wildly popular all over the world including the US with both kids and adults
  • Anime can be found on television, streaming services (like Netflix), movies, video games, graphic novels, comics (Manga), conventions, and more
  • Kids love watching anime because they can relate to many of the characters (which are predominantly kids or teens)

Parent and educator training video

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Anime dangers in the news

What first appears young, fresh, and innocent can quickly turn to twisted and disturbing themes—a typical trick of the porn industry!


Though Japan prohibited the possession of child abuse material …it stopped short of extending restrictions to manga and anime, two culturally symbolic illustrative media in Japan.

Vice World News

Why should parents & educators care?

  • There are many child-appropriate versions of anime available for viewing, but just because anime is in an animated cartoon style, it does not mean that the content or subjects are appropriate for young eyes 
  • A lot of traditional anime productions have been heavily censored, but it is still fairly easy to find the uncensored versions online
  • There are many very adult themes found in anime such as:
Example of a dramatic anime scene
  • ~Pornography
  • ~Moral dilemmas
  • ~Ethical issues/current events
  • ~Violence
  • ~Death
  • ~Revenge
  • ~War
  • ~Substance abuse
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  • Anime is easily accessed online from various sources:
  • ~Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu
  • ~YouTube
  • ~Crunchyroll - an anime streaming service that has more than 4 million subscribers
  • ~Torrent Sites
  • ~Reddit
  • ~Tumbler
  • ~Social media apps like Instagram or TikTok
  • ~Discord
  • ~Fanfiction sites
  • Anime can be a good example of exploring another culture for students
  • Watching anime and/or reading manga can spark creativity for students, inspiring them to create their own versions of the art
  • There is a lot of fun, upbeat music and exciting action scenes in anime episodes
  • Watching anime is often not an isolated activity; fans can spend hours discussing the characters and plot lines with other fans in-person or through social media

What can parents do?

  • Discuss with your kids the shows they are interested in watching and research them as a family. Ask your kids why they like these shows and what makes them interested in continuing to watch.  
  • Watch an episode or two of a specific series in its entirety for yourself to see if it aligns with your family’s media values
  • Sit down with your students and have a discussion about pornography and what to do if they come across it while they are online.  Read our blog post and listen to our podcast to get 5 Tips for Talking to Kids About Porn
  • Find anime shows and movies that are appropriate for the entire family to watch together. There are a lot of family-friendly anime options available. Configure all of your streaming services with the built-in parental controls appropriate for your family (Take our Netflix App Safety Guide for Parents course for help with Netflix parental controls)

Anime terms parents might see

There are many terms that will be helpful to understand while researching appropriate anime content

  • Waifu/Husbando - a fictional character that the viewer is romantically attracted to (wife/husband)
  • Kawaii - Japanese term for “cute”
  • Otaku - hardcore anime fan
  • Hentai - Japanese term for “perverted”, anime and manga genre containing pornography
  • Loli - young, prepubescent girls
  • Lolicon - genre featuring young girls in sexual, erotic situations
  • Fan Service - intentionally including unnecessary material only to please the fans, such as revealing clothes to sexual acts
  • Baka - Japanese term for “idiot”
  • Ai - Japanese term for “love”
  • Bishounen/Bishoujo - Japanese term for “beautiful boy”/”beautiful girl”
  • Shounen - genre targeting young teen males
  • Shoujo - genre targeting young teen females
  • Isekai -  genre featuring “accidental time travel” usually including a parallel world or fantasy world
  • Yuri/Yaoi - genres with hentai featuring  lesbian/gay relationships
  • Seinen - genre targeting young adult men (late teens to 30’s)
  • Josei - genre targeting late teen or adult women
  • Ecchi - broad genre that contains anything from sexual overtones and innuendo to  lewd content and nudity
  • Harem - a sub-genre of romantic comedy where one boy is pursued by multiple girls

Anime and social media

  • Anime is very popular on social media worldwide and there are many apps dedicated to the anime community
  • Fans of all ages love to talk about their favorite anime characters and plot lines
  • Some create their own anime and manga and want to share it online with others
  • Many will use these social networking apps/sites to discover new anime 
  • There are many sites that offer public and private chat rooms for fan discussion but here are a few:
  • ~Animega 
  • ~Anime Planet
  • ~Crunchyroll
  • ~MAL - My Anime List
  • ~Zervo


The world has been watching anime for over 40 years and the Japanese cartoon art form is only becoming more popular.  In fact, Anime has become much more than just tv shows.  For many people, it is a beloved hobby, pastime, and social following. 

While it’s important to know that anime is not all child-friendly, there are many options that your entire family can enjoy together.

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What is Anime? A Guide for Parents

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